Johnny Orlando’s latest EP ‘The Ride’ rationalizes his biggest fears in the three stages of healing

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Johnny Orlando - "The Ride"

Recommended Tracks: “A Man Like Me”, “Thinking Of Me”, “Vegas”

Artists You Might Like: Daniel Seavey, Greyson Chance, Shawn Mendes

Everyone’s remedy for heartbreak is different, depending on who you ask. Some may wallow in self-pity by a tub of ice cream on the couch. Others run into self-destructive behaviors, not out of necessity but mere choice. It’s no wonder some struggle to find a way past a loss so significant that leaves an enduring mark. There’s no right way to move forward, yet with time, we heal. Then we find closure. Canadian pop singer-songwriter Johnny Orlando explores this journey of healing and moving on from a recent failed romantic relationship in his latest EP, The Ride, released on Feb. 23. How does one heal after heartbreak? Orlando grapples with this question throughout the eight-track EP, which was divided into three parts before culminating in a final, conclusive body of work.

The Ride comes almost two years after Orlando released his first full-length studio album in 2022 titled All The Things That Could Go Wrong, which holds a significant symbol through the image of a butterfly, which has become his symbol. Having grown up right before our eyes, posting covers on YouTube at the age of 8, the 21-year-old singer is known for his heartfelt sentiments about growing up, adolescent experiences and now healing after heartbreak in his latest EP.

Falling in and out of love is not easy, particularly when you previously found yourself falling hard; it often comes at a great cost. The Ride begins with a lively synth and R&B drum beat in the opening track, “July.” The track is infused with summery vibes and a longing unlike any other. It captures the seemingly vibrant relationship between two people, with Orlando singing, “I feel your presence late at night / I’ve been thinkin’ ’bout another chance / I’m fallin’ for the way you loved me then (Way you loved me then).” Orlando details a euphoric atmosphere veiled with underlying resentment toward the person he once loved. 

Orlando’s nostalgic sentiments continue, delving into the uncertainty of whether the other person wants him to stay before everything is set in motion in “Vegas.” He uses a gambling metaphor in Las Vegas to convey the excitement, risk and commitment inherent with falling in love, where he sings, “If this is our chance to make it / I’m bettin’ on us like Vegas.”

Perhaps it was the dissolution of romance that ruined Orlando’s relationship, like a failed recollection that was never real. For Orlando, healing comes in three stages, the first being anger. In this lingering romantic haze, he relives moments in “July” and “Vegas” before transitioning into the realms of indignation and frustration in “Boyfriend.” Fueled by a sense of being unloved and used, Orlando addresses this toxicity in his relationship. Idealization is everywhere, even if love isn’t. There comes a difference between loving who the other person is and creating this fabricated image of them in your head. Orlando shares his mistrust and frustration: “You don’t really love me, you just want a boyfriend / You don’t really need me, you just need attention.”

We are left to grapple with our anger after the realization that we are not enough for the other person becomes a natural response. The question arises: Is heartbreak inevitable? Are we simply the creators of our own happiness? In the second stage of healing — freedom — Orlando grapples with this question, finding himself warning and begging the other person to leave in “A Man Like Me.” The song begins with Orlando’s sweet vocals, accompanied by a gentle piano, delving into themes of self-awareness and emotional detachment after realizing that the person never truly loved him to begin with, as depicted in “Boyfriend.” He sings, “You wanted somebody that I’ll never be / But that’s what you get / When your heart’s in the hands of a man like me.” “A Man Like Me” is the manifestation of guilt that comes after one distorts reality; it’s the start of the self-destruction phase of healing before he seeks solace through medication to cope with unfulfilled promises during “Party For Two,” which continues this trail of guilt. Orlando sings about “smoke machines and cigarettes” in the second verse and the outro. But hey, we know what they say sometimes — love is a drug, as Orlando watches them “pirouette.” 

But after a while, all of that pain and misery dissipates into nothingness. In the aftermath of the healing stages is closure. We try to pick ourselves up again after being at our lowest stage. We try to find some peace amidst the turbulent storm that consumed our hearts and souls. But healing is not only about the absence of pain in the poignant, bedroom pop tracks titled “Close to You” and “Thinking Of Me.” In these songs, Orlando finds himself struggling with the challenges of both physical and emotional distance. In “Close to You,” he explains his desire to remain close to the person he once loved despite knowing the relationship wasn’t meant to, singing, “But anytimе I found someone, they don’t comе close to you.” This contemplation of mortality and separation comes with forcing himself to deal with the unexpected thoughts that come with falling out of love in “Thinking Of Me.” Love is all-consuming and it’s a complex emotion and feeling that doesn’t go away, no matter how hard you try. Orlando reflects on specific moments in the relationship and questions if what they had even meant anything to the other person in the track. Maybe there is some peace in the aftermath of heartbreak, with the lyric, “but you left fingerprints on my memories.” In his search for healing and growth, Orlando captures the intricacies of love, separation and love’s enduring impact as he tries to heal and move forward.

In the concluding track, “August,” Orlando seeks to find closure following a rollercoaster ride of romance. In the candid chorus, he sings, “Can we be honest? / It’s not what we wanted,” before declaring “you ruined August for me.” The song’s production mirrors the earlier tracks on the EP like “July” to capture that summer love that might not live up to its romanticized ideals. We often hear that everything good happens between June and August, with summer carrying this definable, positive connotation. There’s freedom and peace in those illustrious summer months. But rather than finding happiness in that time, Orlando is haunted by the summer months. A love that manages to define us, becoming ingrained in our hearts, is unforgettable. “August” exudes a poignant sense of longing and regret in the singer’s search for closure.

At times, it’s easy to forget that fragile hearts are not supposed to mend so quickly; rather, the process takes time. Pain is inevitable after having your heart broken time and time again. However, we know that healing is more than just the absence of pain. In Orlando’s fourth EP, The Ride, the aftermath of a tumultuous relationship instead comes in three stages: anger, freedom and self-destruction. The journey toward healing comes after.

Keep up with Johnny Orlando: Instagram // Spotify // X // TikTok // YouTube // Facebook // Website

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